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Programs From Our Patrons: Lessons Learned from ALA Annual 2016

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ALA Annual Conference 2016 logo

On the morning of June 25, attendees of the 2016 ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Fla., gathered to honor the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The vigil not only provided an opportunity to mourn, but it highlighted our profession’s commitment to creating safe and welcoming spaces for all patrons. ALA Annual focused on inclusion of patrons from all sections of our communities, whether or not they fit into our majority demographic. From collection development practices to program development, attendees were encouraged to listen to and learn from their patrons.

Online Dating Workshop

Everyone needs a little love! Ads for online dating sites

If you work at a public library, you probably answer lots of digital literacy questions: how to change the margins in Word, how to apply for a job online. At Darien Library, we noticed that quite a few people were quietly working on their dating profiles, but they were shy about asking for help. We wanted to create a program where people could ask questions and share their concerns in a safe environment.

While the workshop is open to everyone, it is particularly popular with middle-aged or older adults who are re-entering the dating scene after a breakup.

Hungry Hungry Hippos

Buckets decorated as hippos

Hungry Hungry Hippos is a life-sized version of the classic tabletop game. Participants play as the hippos, and their objective is to collect the most plastic balls before time runs out. Starting from different corners of the room, the players move around on scooters and can only use their “mouths” — plastic buckets — to capture the balls.

Barn Quilts

Wooden square painted to look like a quilt square

This was a four-week course in which we created our own custom barn quilts, learned a little about their history, and had a wonderful time bringing people together and beautifying the town. We are now on the local barn quilt trail and will be doing another class soon.

Library Walking and Running Clubs

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Library's running team

This year the LP Fisher Public Library teamed up with our local run club, the River Valley Runners. They got a place to have their monthly meetings, access to awesome running books (and periodicals, thanks to the generous donation of a member), and we got to particpate in their fun runs and help plan their events. It has turned out to be a true win-win.

Yard Dice

Participants make life-sized Yahtzee pieces

Participants signed up to sand, paint and decorate their set of five "dice" — blocks of wood that had been pre-cut by staff — for an oversized game of Yahtzee. Once finished, they could take them home to use. Our goal was to host a multi-generational program at the library that would encourage continued multi-generational interactions all summer long.

Five Steps to Success: Starting a Program in Large Library Systems

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Laptop and notebook

Large library systems often have the resources to create innovative programming. However, a librarian with a great idea faces their own set of challenges when trying to implement and market a new program. 

Recently, I gave an informal presentation to new staff members at my library about ways to launch their library programs. Before you get started, make sure you can answer these five questions: 


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